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UPDATED: Powell River Regals set for return to ice after lengthy layoff

Senior hockey club faces Vancouver Island University at home on October 15 and 16
TOP SHELF: Powell River Regals’ defender AJ Dzhevelekyan releases a shot that eventually finds its way into the top corner of the Kelowna Sparta net during a Coy Cup qualification game at Hap Parker Arena in February 2020. Regals have not played at home since, due to COVID-19, but return to action at home on October 15.

With a final schedule for the 2021/2022 hockey season still in the works, Powell River Regals Hockey Club is set to welcome its first opponent in more than 20 months to Hap Parker Arena.

Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners will visit for a pair of exhibition games on Friday, October 15, and Saturday, October 16. According to Regals’ coach Tod English, in addition to VIU, the schedule will include home games against University of Victoria (UVIC) and Rossland leading up to qualification series for the 2022 provincial senior AA Coy Cup playoffs.

“We last played in February 2020 against Kelowna Sparta for the last berth in the 2020 Coy Cup,” said English.

Sparta won that best-of-three qualifying series 2-0, with the Regals hosting both games, and advanced to the four-team 2020 Coy Cup championship tournament, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a learning experience in our journey to gain momentum for future games,” said English.

The pandemic halted that momentum, but not the enthusiasm of players and the organization for a return to the ice in 2021.

“We, like all adult sports, had a year off due to COVID-19 restrictions and are excited to get back to competitive hockey,” said English. “We will also be travelling to Williams Lake, Quesnel and Rossland for away games, as well as Vancouver Island to play VIU and UVIC.

UVIC and VIU are both part of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League, which includes Simon Fraser University and Okanagan Lakers; the latter includes players enrolled at UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.

Williams Lake, Quesnel and Rossland, along with the Regals, will be among the competitors for the 2022 Coy Cup.

English said similar to Powell River Villa Soccer Club, the Regals will be benefiting from young athletes who are staying in the qathet region or coming home to work.

“With the likes of Tyler Carpendale and Jack Long just fresh from junior hockey, we look to have a good mix of talent,” he added.

Veteran forward Joe Calderone has indicated he is considering retirement from playing after a successful career of 17 years, according to English.

“Joe is one of the remaining players from the 2006 Allan Cup Canadian Championship winning team, and member of Team Canada 2007, which played in the Belarus Cup that year,” said English.

As part of the Regals’ squad representing Canada in Belarus, Calderone faced off against national teams from the host country and Latvia, as well as Salavat Yulaev from Russia.

“He will be switching gears to training and development of our players,” added English.

Start times for Regals versus VIU are 7 pm on Friday, October 15, and 3 pm on Saturday, October 16.

A maximum of 850 fans will be permitted at each game, due to COVID-19 restrictions and per provincial health officer guidelines. All fans attending, age 12 and older, are required to show a vaccine passport to enter, and must wear a face mask while inside Powell River Recreation Complex and Hap Parker Arena.